On Saturday the Hokies play… wait, this has to be a typo… the oklahoma state cowboys?! Seriously?! Didn’t we just play them? Well, that should make this preview easy. The Hokies took down okie state 59-57 to capture the NIT Bronze Medal a month ago (RECAP).
On New Year’s Eve the Hokies will head to Stillwater to battle the pokes for the 2nd time in 5 weeks and 3rd time in 13 months. As luck would have it, the two teams met in the Preseason NIT 3rd Place Game over Thanksgiving and already had a game on the schedule at osu for this month. By comparison, VT will only play wake, unc, maryland, miami, georgia tech, and nc state once this season, but will face the cowboys twice.
This will be the Hokies last out of conference tune-up before starting ACC play next Saturday, January 7th, at wake forest. Tech has one more out of conference game, home versus byu later in January, after ACC action has geared up.
Can the Hokies get the 3-game sweep of the pokes? We’ll see. This will be a tough road challenge at what used to be a very tough place to play. But with the pokes recent success in football, struggles in basketball, and the fact it is during a holiday on New Year’s Eve, we’ll see how tough the environment actually is at the 13,000-seat Gallagher-Iba Arena (wear your ponchos and look out for sledgehammered fruits!).
Can a team actually break the 60 point mark in this one? We’ll see. The Hokies offense has been in high gear of late, averaging 78 ppg during their 5-game winning streak.
|Position||Virginia Tech||okla state|
|Guard||11 Green 6-3 (Jr)||12 Page 5-9 (Jr)|
|Guard||5 Hudson 6-5 (Sr)||22 Brown 6-3 (So)|
|Forward/Guard||31 Eddie 6-7 (So)||0 Olukemi 6-5 (Jr)|
|Forward||15 Finney-Smith 6-8 (Fr)||2 Nash 6-7 (Fr)|
|Center||14 Davila 6-8 (Sr)||44 Jurick 6-11 (Jr)|
|Virginia Tech||okla state|
|Record||8-3||7-5 (lost 3 of 4)|
|Top 100 RPI Wins (VT #57, osu #113)||norfolk st (41), st bonnie (97)||None|
|Leaders (this season):|
|Scorer||Green 15.4||Page 13.1|
|Rebounder||Finney-Smith 8.1||Jurick 6.4|
|Assists||Green 3.3||Brown 1.9|
|Steals||Green 1.6||Brown 1.9|
|Blocks||Finney-Smith 1.1||Jurick 2.3|
okie state is yet another offensively challenged team. They average 68 points per game, but had just 49 at the end of regulation against smu on Wednesday before their 68-58 2 OT win. alabama held them to 52 the game before that, new mexico held them to 56 before that. They’ve scored less than 60 points in regulation in 5 of their last 8 games.
I fully expect the pokes to attack the Hokies off the dribble drive on Saturday. After struggling offensively in the first half, Markel Brown just destroyed Tech in the second half. The 6-3 guard helped okie state score their first 28 points of the 2nd half either in the paint (20 points) or from the line (8).
Markel Brown is the cowboys glue guy. While 5-star stud freshman Le’Bryan Nash is their 2nd leading scorer at 12.3 ppg and senior Keiton Page leads them with 13.1, Brown fuels a lot of that with the ball in his hands. He is a freak athlete. Brown is a terrible 3-point shooter (under 22%).
Keiton Page is their best outside shooter. But at 5’9″, he has had trouble shooting over the tall Hokie lineup. He had 11 points in the first meeting this year, but 5 of those were in the final 11 seconds after the game was decided (he had just 3 points in the first 35 minutes of the game). Page had just 2 points last year against VT. If he can get hot from deep, he can light it up (he’s 26/74 – 35%) and had 27 in their 2 OT win over smu on Wednesday. But again, big teams give him fits. Expect him to shoot from deeper than normal to get his shot off.
Le’Bryan Nash was rated a better recruit than Dorian Finney-Smith. Nash put up a big goose egg vs VT in the first meeting in the scoring and rebounding columns. Expect him to have a chip on his shoulder in this game and really attack the hoop, with Doe Doe likely guarding him. Doe Doe had a great game with 10 points and 14 rebounds the first go-around.
Jean-Paul Olukemi also beat up the Hokies inside in the 2nd half of the first meeting. He’s an undersized, but physical 6’5″ forward. Jarell Eddie needs to do a better job on him than he did the first time.
Philip Jurick is a goon inside. The 6’11” center’s job is to rebound (6.4) and block shots (2.3). In fact, he averages more blocks than points (1.9) per game. Tech does not have to respect him on offense. The post players need to rotate off him to help when guards get beat off the dribble, or to double Nash or Olukemi in the post.
Freshman Cezar Guerrero is their best bench player. He’s a decent 3-point shooter and likes to drive with aggression, but scored just 3 points in the first meeting. Tech really shut down their diaper dandies.
Unfortunately, Tech isn’t playing osu at the Garden. okie state is 0-3 at MSG this year, but 7-2 away from the self-proclaimed ‘Most Famous Arena in the World’. That said, they are 0-5 against RPI top 100 teams. VT obviously can win this game, but the cowboys have an idea how to beat the Hokies now and have the advantage of playing at home.
- Dominate the Glass: VT killed osu on the boards in the first meeting, snagging 20 offensive rebounds. The cowboys are undersized inside, with Brown (a guard) their 2nd leading rebounder. osu plays solid defense so Tech needs to get 2nd chance points to win this game.
- Protect the Paint: Expect Marquis Rankin to get Markel Brown at times (Rankin was injured for the first meeting). If Rankin can keep Brown from driving and either getting easy buckets, or dishing for easy buckets, that will limit what osu did successfully on offense in the first meeting.
- Change the Diaper Dandies: The Hokies held Nash and Guerrero, who average over 20 ppg, to just 3 combined points in the first meeting. If Tech can shut them down again, it will really limit the pokes offensively.
- Green: Erick had 18 points in the first meeting but has scored exactly 12 in each of the last 4 games. Tech does well when their scoring is balanced, but I think the Winchester Rifle has to have a good game, and start hitting 3s again, to stretch out the osu defense.
BORING FACTS ABOUT oklahoma state:
|NCAA Tournament Appearances||24 (won the 45 and 46 titles, 6 Final Fours – last in 2004)|
|Famous Students/Alums||Garth Brooks, Gary Busey, Dout Gottlieb (super annoying), T. Boone Pickens! (favorite name other than Phillip McCandies), Dez Bryant, Rickie Fowler, Don Haskins, Matt Holliday, Barry Sanders, Thurmon Thomas|
|Name||Originally was oklahoma a&m|